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National News

August 24, 2012

School: Background was checked before rampage

CENTENNIAL, Colorado (AP) — The former graduate student accused in a deadly mass shooting at a movie theater had failed a key exam six weeks before the rampage, made threats and was banned from his college, prosecutors said yesterday.

University of Colorado Denver spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery later disputed that James Holmes was banned from campus but confirmed that a criminal background check was done on him before the July 20 attack.

She said a court gag order prevented her from discussing who requested the check, who performed it, and who saw the results.

It’s the first explicit confirmation from the university that concerns had been raised about Holmes at the school before the shooting. University officials did not elaborate about why they conducted the background check.

Montgomery did say that campus Police Chief Doug Abraham was referring to that background check when he said at a July 23 news conference that Holmes had only a minor infraction on his record.

She said Holmes’ access to restricted areas on campus was canceled because he left his program in June, not because of threats.

Prosecutors made their new claims Thursday against Holmes in their effort to persuade a judge to allow them access to 100 pages of education records subpoenaed from the university, where Holmes had been a neuroscience doctoral candidate.

The university turned over the documents last week, but Holmes’ lawyers moved to keep them sealed.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson told the judge that Holmes was stockpiling ammunition, body armor and explosives at his apartment and at the university while he was flunking out. Gaining access to the records, she argued, would establish motive by showing what Holmes hoped to accomplish at CU and the “dissatisfaction with what occurred in his life that led to this.”

The judge said he would rule in time for the next hearing in the case, scheduled for Aug. 30.

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